I have a good friend who is a lapsed Catholic and attends various Protestant churches. Earlier today, I was talking to her about a dilemma that I was having. Namely that I could not find a parish within the city that I liked. I told her that I was not willing to go and look at Protestant churches to which she said that I shouldn’t call them that, but should refer to them as “Christian.”
She and I discussed the topic for a while, but I found myself constantly backpedaling from what were invitations to attend certain non-Catholic churches within my city. I told my friend that if push came to shove, I would attend them once and leave it at that. Yet the more I think about it, the more I have resolved that I will never set foot in a Protestant church as long as I am alive.
While the Catholic Church has its problems and issues, I do not feel that these are reason enough for me to go from the trunk to another tree. For me to leave the Catholic Church would mean repudiating the known truth and, as the Baltimore Catechism teaches, I would be guilty before God of hell fire if I did such a thing. The thing of it is that I cannot go to Protestant churches without endangering my salvation and my beliefs. For the same reasons, Catholics are expressly told by Holy Mother Church not to become Freemasons.
The thing of it is also that I do not feel a need to start over from scratch. When I came to Catholicism, I had done my research and had read enough books to know what I was getting myself into. I was convinced and still am that the Roman Catholic Church is the Church that Christ Himself founded. No other Christian denomination can make the same undisputable claims that the Catholic Church does. Again, the same old question: Why go from a tree to another tree? Why pick up stakes and do it all over again?
As I mentioned before, I have not found a parish in my neighborhood or city that I like going to on a regular basis. The parish located four blocks from my house is as mediocre as they come. The adjective “nice” is the operating word there. Everything is nice, but there is nothing which challenges me and makes me live my faith better. It’s also fairly young.
The other parishes I’ve attended run the gamut from conservative to liberal, but I have never felt at home at any of them. Ironically, the only parish where I felt at home was at Mount St. Michael’s, the sedevacantist church which I attended for some months in 2007 and 2008. Although the parish had problems, it was the only place where I didn’t have to grit my teeth.
Of course, I cannot return to Mount St. Michael knowing what I know about the Church. If I went back there, I would be in schism from Rome and my discernment process would grind to a halt because I’m outside of the Church. You see, the sedevacantists can claim that they are Catholic as much as they want, but that is another story.
In the end, my ideal parish would be one in which the Latin Mass or Novus Ordo was celebrated reverently. I want the homily to challenge me to live my faith better. I want a parish priest that genuinely cares about his vocation and his parishioners and not one who leaves the entire administration of the parish to assistants. Yet I also want to feel that I am part of a family and not just another pew sitter.
Is this too much to ask or is this a pipe dream? Truth to tell, I don’t really know but I will pray until I get my answer.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us